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The rate of new Covid-19 infections climbed by more than 50% in the past two weeks, but the overall number of new infections remains nearly as low as it was last summer before the start of the Delta surge, according to a Daily Yonder analysis.

Last week’s death rate grew modestly in both rural and urban counties.

Rural (nonmetropolitan) counties reported nearly 29,000 new infections last week, an increase of about 20% from two weeks ago. Metropolitan counties reported 335,000 new infections, an increase of about 18% from two weeks ago.

Rural infections have increased for each of the past three weeks.

Covid-related deaths increased slightly last week in rural counties, climbing to 699 from 670 two weeks ago. The death rate in metropolitan counties decreased slightly last week.

Overall, 173,370 rural Americans have died from Covid-19, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That represents 1 out of approximately every 265 residents of rural, or nonmetropolitan, counties. In metropolitan counties, the rate is 1 in every 364 residents.

The Covid death rate has been higher in rural counties than metropolitan ones for 86 out of the last 91 weeks. The cumulative rural death rate is about 36% higher than the metropolitan death rate.

Last week’s rate of new infections was lower in rural counties than in metropolitan ones. Only six states had higher rural than metropolitan infection rates last week. They were Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, and Wyoming.

The Northeast is currently the biggest trouble spot in the U.S. Five Northeastern states have all of their rural counties in the red zone, defined as having 100 or more new infections in a week per 100,000 residents. Those states are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York. About three quarters of Vermont’s rural counties are also in the red zone.

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